The Second Law of Thermodynamics Does Not Prohibit Evolution
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The second law of thermodynamics does not prohibit evolution.
BoP is shared.
Second Law of Thermodynamics: "...if the physical process is irreversible, the combined entropy of the system and the environment must increase."
Prohibit: "To prevent; preclude."
Evolution: "The process by which species of organisms arise from earlier life forms and undergo change over time through natural selection."
1. The first round is for acceptance.
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
3. No semantics or trolling.
4. All arguments must be visible inside this debate. Sources may be posted in an outside link.
5. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.
Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments (no new arguments)
Round 4: Defending your original arguments and conclusion (no new arguments)
I would like to thank NothingSpecial99 for accepting this debate.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Let me restate the statement of the Second Law I made in the definitions. “...if the physical process is irreversible, the combined entropy of the system and the environment must increase.”
Now, entropy to fundamental to an understanding of the Second Law. Mathematically, the definition of entropy is that a change in entropy equals the integral of dQ/T, where dQ is an infinitesimal change in heat and T is the temperature. The integral is definite, running over two temperatures. Another mathematical definition is that S=k*ln(w), where S is the entropy, k is Boltzmann's constant, and w is the multiplicity of a system. Both definitions are helpful to understanding entropy in the current context.
The first definition says that the flow of heat changes the entropy of a system. It follows from the definition of temperature itself. Now, one doesn't have to use the Second Law to deduce that heat always spontaneously flows from hot objects to cold objects. The entropy being created in the cold object as the heat flows into it is always greater than the entropy lost in the hot object, because the dependence is 1/T. This, in itself, is one form of the Second Law.
The second definition says that the entropy of a system is proportional to its multiplicity. The multiplicity is the number of microstates in one macrostate. One does not need to know the combinatorics behind this. View the multiplicity as simply a measure of the number of states of the system. The basic point is, hotter, bigger, less pressurized systems have a larger multiplicity, or more potential states than colder, smaller, more pressurized systems. This is another form of the Second Law. It is less important in the current context, but I mentioned it because it isn't a statement about the change in entropy, but in the entropy itself, and because it helps to conceptualize entropy.
The definition of a irreversible process seems obvious enough. The second law says that, in the case of an irreversible process, the combined entropy of the system and the environment must increase. Spontaneous heat flow is an example of an irreversible process, so this agrees with what followed from the first definition of entropy.
Now, it is important to note that the Second Law only applies to an isolated system (one where the system does not interact with anything outside it). Every real physical system interacts with its environment. So, you can have the entropy of the system itself decrease by giving the system energy. But even if it is an isolated system, local areas can still have decreasing entropy, but only if the entropy of the environment increases by at least as much as that decrease. Taking into account the system and all its effects on the environment would constitute an isolated system. In general, for this debate, we can view the Universe as the environment.
Finally, the relation between entropy and order needs to be addressed. It is often claimed that entropy is disorder. However, this is not true. “Entropy is not disorder, not a measure of chaos, not a driving force. Energy's diffusion or dispersal to more microstates is the driving force in chemistry. Entropy is the measure or index of that dispersal... From a molecular viewpoint all such entropy increases involve the dispersal of energy over a greater number, or a more readily accessible set, of microstates. This confusion about disorder and entropy comes from 1895 before an adequate understanding of the details of energy change in atoms and molecules was possible.” In other words, it is entirely possible for a disordered state to become ordered even as the state's entropy increases.
Summarizing all this together, the Second Law only argues that non-equilibrium states will tend to shift towards becoming equilibrium states. Anisotropies should, given enough time, become isotropies. “Energetically, the second law of thermodynamics favors the formation of the majority of all known complex and ordered chemical compounds directly from their simpler elements. Thus, contrary to popular opinion, the second law does not dictate the decrease of ordered structure by its predictions. It only demands a 'spreading out' of energy when such ordered compounds are formed spontaneously.” In sum, a process is not prohibited simply because the resultant state is more ordered than the initial state.
Evolution and the Second Law of Thermodynamics
Taking the Universe as the environment, the only important bodies are the Earth and the Sun. The Earth receives energy from the Sun in the form of sunlight. This means that the Earth itself is not a closed system. The sunlight contains energy, some of which is dissipated to the Earth, and the rest is reflected back into space, having less energy, and therefore more entropy than what it had originally. So, this process increases the energy of the Earth, and this can power local decreases in entropy on the Earth.
From all that has already been discussed, we can draw two conclusions. One, entropy has very little to do with order or disorder. And two, entropy can decrease, either by having an energy input or by a “redistribution” of currently existing entropy. This means that there can be areas on the Earth where order can arise from disorder. So, even if we accept that evolution is a process that creates order from disorder, it is entirely possible.
However, not even that much has to be conceded. It turns out that the processes of evolution arise from commonly occurring scientific processes. “The only processes necessary for evolution to occur are reproduction, heritable variation, and selection. All of these are seen to happen all the time, so, obviously, no physical laws are preventing them. In fact, connections between evolution and entropy have been studied in depth, and never to the detriment of evolution.”
But it goes further than this. Not only are the processes necessary to evolution fully compatible with the Second Law, modeling the environment can actually predict how evolution will occur. Take Cope's rule, the rule that, over time, species tend to increase in body size. This increases the overall entropy of individuals over time. One study modeled this, and found, “Most mammals can be considered as evolving under ecological conditions which induce slow or stationary population growth; hence, this pattern of entropy increase accords with our predictions.”
Among other things, “Several scientists have proposed that evolution and the origin of life is driven by entropy. Some see the information content of organisms subject to diversification according to the second law, so organisms diversify to fill empty niches much as a gas expands to fill an empty container. Others propose that highly ordered complex systems emerge and evolve to dissipate energy (and increase overall entropy) more efficiently.”
The study mentioned two paragraphs above concluded that, “These observations indicate that the increase in evolutionary entropy under bounded growth constraints have both strong explanatory and predictive properties and constitute a unifying principle for understanding the patterns generated by mutation and natural selection over evolutionary time.” This means that, not only can the Second Law allow for evolution, it encourages it.
Entropy is not necessarily correlated with disorder, meaning that the order of a system can increase even as its entropy increases as well. The Earth is not an isolated system, meaning that energy coming from the sun can power entropy decreases. Both of these imply that the Earth can experience increases in order. Not only does this allow for evolution, but evolution itself is compatible with evolutionary models. Overall, the second law of thermodynamics does not prohibit evolution.
1.The origin of life is relevant to evolution
2.The 2nd law prohibits the origin of life
Many evolutionists try to put aside the issue of the origin of life from non-living chemicals claiming that it is irrelevant. However, evolution assumes that there is already a living, self-replicating organism to begin with. Various evolutionists also agree on this statement. Gordy Slack, an evolutionist says,
"I think it is disingenuous to argue that the origin of life is irrelevant to evolution. It is no less relevant than the Big Bang is to physics or cosmology. Evolution should be able to explain, in theory at least, all the way back to the very first organism that could replicate itself through biological or chemical processes. And to understand that organism fully, we would simply have to know what came before it. And right now we are nowhere close."
In addition zoologist and physiologist (and evolutionist) Gerald Kerkut defined in the General Theory of Evolution as "the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form". 
It is also worthy to note that scientific magazines such as the Scientific American whenever they create an issue that focused on evolution such as the September 1978 issue, there is an article that talks about chemical evolution and the origin of life. 
Back billions of years ago when Earth was a primordial soup, it could be seen as an open system. However, the law of entropy does not only apply to isolated systems but open systems as well. Dr. John Ross of Harvard university explains this when he says,
"there are no known violations of the second law of thermodynamics. Ordinarily the second law is stated for isolated systems, but the second law applies equally well to open systems. " There is somehow associated with the field of far-from-equilibrium thermodynamics the notion that the second law of thermodynamics fails for such systems. It is important to make sure that this error does not perpetuate itself." 
Open systems still tend towards disorder. An example of this is crystallization where local order increases at the expense of increased disorder in its surroundings. The issue is not the energy required to form the complex molecules for life, but the fact that this energy is undirected. Raw energy itself cannot account for the specified information in living things. Rather it breaks them down. For example, you do not become more complex by just standing out in the sun. In fact, the raw energy of ultraviolet waves damage DNA leading to skin cancer. On the other hand, if you are a plant with chloroplasts that can harness the sun"s energy to produce sugars. Because the law of entropy prohibits lifeless chemicals forming together into the first life form it therefore prohibits evolution.
1.Slack, G., What neo-creationists get right, The Scientist, 20 June 2008;
2.Kerkut, G.A., Implications of Evolution, Pergamon, Oxford, p.157, 1960.
4.John Ross, Chemical and Engineering News, 7 July 1980, p. 40; cited in Duane Gish, Creation Scientists Answer their Critics Institute for Creation Research, 1993
I would like to thank NothingSpecial99 for presenting his arguments.
I agree that the origin of life is relevant to evolution. Therefore, for the Second Law to allow for evolution, it must allow for the origin of evolution. Any theory of evolution that does not account for the origin of life is sorely incomplete.
However, my opponent relies on a misunderstanding of the Second Law. “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum. This statement is the best-known phrasing of the second law. Because of the looseness of its language, e.g. universe, as well as lack of specific conditions, e.g. open, closed, or isolated, many people take this simple statement to mean that the second law of thermodynamics applies virtually to every subject imaginable. This, of course, is not true; this statement is only a simplified version of a more extended and precise description.” In other words, the change in entropy in time is only necessarily greater than or equal to zero in cases where the system is isolated.
For an open system, dS/dT=Qdot/T+Sdot+Sidot, where the dot represents a time derivative. S is the entropy of the system, Qdot is the heat flow into the system, T is the temperature at the point where the heat enters the system, Sdot is the entropy accompanying a flow of matter into the system, and Sidot is the sum of the rate of entropy production by all processes inside the system. (and is always greater than or equal to zero). I mentioned in the last round that sunlight contains energy, some of which is dissipated to the Earth, and the rest is reflected back into space, having less energy, and therefore more entropy than what it had originally. In the equation, there are two Qdot terms – one represents the flow of heat to the Earth, and the other represents the flow of heat from the Earth. From the Earth's perpsective, the former would be positive, and the latter would be negative. The inverse dependence on temperature implies the latter is greater than the former, since the temperature of the Sun is much greater than that of the Earth. This creates a large negative value in the term for dS/dT. Sdot is negligable, since the Earth receives little matter from the Sun. This means that Sidot is greater than dS/dT. dS/dT can be less than zero. Long story short, this means that the change in entropy in time can be negative for an open system. The Second Law needs to be restated for non-isolated systems.
As this point and the points I made in round 2 hopefully made clear, it is more than possible for an open system to experience a decrease in entropy. The crystallization example is idealized to an isolated system. If the material is being crystallized in an open environment, the net entropy of the system can still decrease.
There is a real theory that shows how chemical compounds led to life. It is called abiogenesis. I won't go into as much detail as I'd like, but I'll describe the famous Miller-Urey experiment that showed that water, methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, and carbon monoxide (among other chemicals, all present on Earth since its formation), when interacting with energy in the form of lightning (also often found on the early Earth), which came from the sun, produced amino acids, the basic building blocks of life. "Essential to the spontaneous origin of life was the availability of organic molecules as building blocks. The famous prebiotic soup’ experiment by Stanley Miller had shown that amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, arose among other small organic molecules spontaneously by reacting a mixture of methane, hydrogen, ammonia and water in a spark discharge apparatus. These conditions were assumed to simulate those on the primitive Earth. Already in 1922 Oparin had proposed that the early Earth had such a reducing atmosphere... It was suggested that only in a reducing atmosphere like this, synthesis of organic molecules – also sugars and organic bases, building blocks of nucleotides – would have been possible in large amounts."(Note that when the author uses the term "spontaneously", he refers to the reaction of molecules into compounds; it's not like the compounds suddenly came into existence.) The Second Law does not prevent abiogenesis from occurring.
The claim that evolution and abiogenesis cannot account for information is misguided as well. “Nothing needs to assemble itself. Evolution and abiogenesis do not exclude outside influences; on the contrary, such outside influences are essential. In abiogenesis, it is observed that complex organic molecules easily form spontaneously due to little more than basic chemistry and energy from the sun or from the earth's interior. In evolution, information from the environment is communicated to genomes indirectly via natural selection against varieties that do not do well in that environment.” In other words, reassembling chemicals creates new information in the form of a redistribution of currently existing information.
The Second Law, in the form that says, “Entropy must always increase, and tends towards a maximum” only applies to isolated systems. For an open system, it is allowing for the entropy to decrease, and the Second Law needs to be restated. In this form, it places no restrictions on the origin of life from chemical compounds because the early Earth was an open system, receiving energy from the sun. Similarly, it does not prohibit the creation of new information from the redistribution of already existing information.
I have no problems with the first half of my opponent"s arguments as it provides a good definition of the 2nd law of thermodynamics. However, the arguments that natural selection and mutations are driving forces to create more complex organisms to further increase entropy in their surroundings relies on the fact that a self-replicating organism exists.
Now I"ll deal with the points of your rebuttal:
The universe is technically an isolated system since it is a term to describe the entire space-time continuum and doesn"t have any other systems to exchange mass or energy with unless the theory that multiple universes exist but I"d rather not dive into theoretical astrophysics in this debate. So the universe still tends towards maximum disorder.
The issue with the Miller-Urey experiment is the fact that it has yielded trace amounts of amino acids such as glycine. In addition, a set of 20 different amino acids are required to produce most functional proteins. Since the experiment, it is now more believed that Earth"s early atmosphere contained oxygen since there was water vapor, the sun"s energy would have caused photodissociation separating them into hydrogen gas and oxygen.
In the last paragraph of your rebuttal, you discuss how complex organic molecules can form spontaneously however you do not bring up examples and neither does your source for this.
"Similarly, it does not prohibit the creation of new information from the redistribution of already existing information."
This is the main point of my argument. Information must have already existed to guide processes that decrease entropy.
34.Flowers, C., A Science Odyssey: 100 Years of Discovery, William Morrow and Company, New York, p. 173, 1998.
24.Miller, S.L., A production of amino acids under possible primitive earth conditions, Science 117:528"529; p. 528, 1953.
I would like to thank NothingSpecial99 for this debate.
Self-replicating organisms do exist. Bacteria reproduce through mitosis, which is essentially the mother cell replicating all its DNA, and transmitted equally to two daughter cells identical to themselves and their mother. DNA could have also easily been created in the conditions of the primordial Earth. In addition to amino acids, discussed in the last round, nucleotides could also form. Nucleotides make up RNA. "John Sutherland and his colleagues from the University of Manchester, UK, created a ribonucleotide, a building block of RNA, from simple chemicals under conditions that might have existed on the early Earth.""The study by the group of John Sutherland shows how nature could have spontaneously assembled pyrimidine ribonucleotide monomers from prebiotically plausible molecules through intermediates that contribute atoms to both the sugar and base portions of the ribonucleotides, thus avoiding a condensation step of sugar and base altogether." From here, going from RNA to DNA was as simple as changing a few of the components and you'd have DNA.
The universe, for all we know, is an isolated system, implying that, by the Second Law, the entropy of the universe is always increasing. This is supported by the fact that the universe is not only expanding, but doing so at an accelerated rate. Thus, the volume of the universe is increasing, implying the number of potential microstates for atoms in the universe increases, implying the entropy of the universe is increasing.
While it certainly is probable that the Earth's atmosphere contained a small amount of free oxygen, it is unlikely that the concentration of free oxygen would have made any appreciable difference on the outcome. "Banded iron formations are layers of hematite (Fe2O3) and other iron oxides deposited in the ocean 2.5 to 1.8 billion years ago. The conventional interpretation is that oxygen was introduced into the atmosphere for the first time in significant quantities beginning about 2.5 billion years ago when photosynthesis evolved. This caused the free iron dissolved in the ocean water to oxidize and precipitate. Thus, the banded iron formations mark the transition from an early earth with little free oxygen and much dissolved iron in water to present conditions with lots of free oxygen and little dissolved iron... [Among other pieces of evidence] The dominant scientific view is that the early atmosphere had 0.1 percent oxygen or less."
Examples of complex organic molecules forming on the primordial Earth can be found in the Miller-Urey experiment, which I have already described, among many other experiments.
But the information for life already existed before life appeared on the Earth. For example, one molecule of water contains information about how the molecule behaves, where it is, et cetera. Information can easily exist without life.
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